Contact lenses these days can be deceptively comfortable. It can sometimes be tempting to wear them for longer than your eye doctor recommends. It is important to note, however, that overuse of your contact lenses has the potential to seriously damage your eyes, and cause future eyesight problems and eye conditions. Dr. Ross Cusic of Optical Images in Kirkland, Washington says, “Contact lenses can be very damaging to your vision if you are not careful about caring for them and using them as prescribed. Learning just a few ways to prevent contact lens overuse can go a long way toward preventing this kind of damage.”
Spare the glasses, spoil the eyes...
Always have a spare pair of glasses around. This will allow your eyes to rest from the strain put on them by consistent contact lens wear. You should choose your glasses over your contacts once or twice a week, or for a few days at the end of the month.
On days when you wear your contacts, you should wear them for only part of the day. Rather than putting your contact lenses in straight out of bed, wear your glasses while preparing for the day, and put your contacts in only as your last step. This will allow extra time without your contacts in without you having to make a conscious effort to do so. You can also take your contacts out a few hours before going to bed. These and other methods can significantly reduce the chances of overusing your contacts.
Time your time out!
You should also keep track of how many hours per week you have your contact lenses out of your eyes. If you come in any less than 18 hours per week, you may be damaging your eyes. Your eyes require oxygen just like a person, and denying them oxygen can cause the eye to attempt to supply oxygen by a process called neovascularization, in which new blood vessels grow into parts of the eye where they don't belong, blocking your vision and doing potentially serious harm. Your eyes also require that special blend of chemicals we call tears in order to properly hydrate them.
Contact time is NOT nap time!
Falling asleep with your contact lenses in is one cause of contact lens overuse which is often overlooked. Leaving your contacts in overnight, or even for a brief nap during the day, can deny the eyes essential oxygen and hydration, leading to neovascularization. It is very important to remove your contact lenses, even if you intend to take a nap for only an hour or two.
Daily wear means one day and monthly wear means one month
Finally, be sure to replace your contact lenses according to the time line prescribed by your Kirkland optometrist. It is a dangerously common practice to try to extend the life of your contacts further. Many people are not cautious about this because they believe that as long as the contacts are comfortable, there is nothing wrong with the lenses. By the time the contacts are uncomfortable, however, it is quite possible that damage may have already been done.
For any questions and further tips, feel free to contact Dr. Cusic today.